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WKÖ: "Clear Commitment to the Brenner Base Tunnel is Needed”

Published: February 23, 2011; 01:25 · (Vindobona)

The chairman of the Austrian Economic Chamber considers the tunnel between Italy and Austria as a pioneering infrastructure project.

WKÖ: "Clear Commitment to the Brenner Base Tunnel is Needed” / Picture: ©

Only two days ago, the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) announced that the government should take over the financing for the construction of the tunnel. The tight financial situation requires not to take on any additional risks. The realization of the project might be jeopardized.

The President of the Austrian Economic Chamber, Christoph Leitl, emphasizes: "The business location Austria needs a clear commitment to the Brenner Base Tunnel." The most recent discussions and delays are a completely wrong signal to the local economy, and also to the project partners abroad.

The Brenner Base Tunnel is the most important portion of the planned expansion of the 2,200-kilometer long railway line from Berlin to Palermo, which was ranked by the EU Commission as a priority TEN project as part of the Trans-European Networks at the instigation of Austria.

The need for this European North-South link should be beyond dispute, warns Leitl. "Because the Brenner Base Tunnel is a pioneering cross-border project. It will help to make the European infrastructure fit for future requirements. We can simply  not afford to put such a project at risk."

Meanwhile, criticism comes from politicians. The Financial Secretary of State Lopatka said the ÖBB is blackmailing the government. Although he respects commercial prudence, the State is already offering its contribution to the construction in the form of subsidized interest rates. Finance Minister Josef Pröll, however, showed himself quite calm and said that he sees no risk for the tunnel.